It’s a Thursday night and you just invited a friend over for dinner later this weekend.
You’re excited to reconnect and share a meal — until you get a text from this friend: “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I am now a vegan. Hope this won’t be a problem!”
Your heart sinks and anxiety kicks in. What will I make? None of my dishes fit this diet.
Accommodating dietary needs
Does accommodating a dinner guest with dietary restrictions overwhelm you?
Is there a friend whom you’ve avoided inviting over for dinner out of fear that you won’t have a meal that will be both enjoyable and fit his or her diet?
As a gluten intolerant person, I get it. When I first cut gluten out of my diet it really frustrated my friends, family, and me.
(In case you haven’t heard … some gluten free items taste a little like chewing on cardboard. Here’s a list of my favorite go-to gluten free products that I always have in stock.)
At first I created a Pinterest board and started cooking new meals from scratch using special gluten recipes.
Over time however, after adding a few staples to my cooking supplies, I discovered a loophole that made cooking for my diet a breeze!
One Small Win: Rather than making an entirely new dish from scratch, create dishes you already love and modify only the ingredients that don’t fit the diet.
Let’s pretend your signature meal is some kind of pasta dish with meat sauce, but your guest is a vegetarian.
You can make the dish as usual, but leave the meat sauce on the side. You can also make an additional, meat-free sauce and have it on the side, giving your guest options.
Maybe your guest eats meat, but is gluten intolerant? Use certified gluten free pasta instead, and research your other ingredients to see if any of those need replacing.
Here is a worksheet to make this process easier if you are a visual planner like me!
Remember, if all else fails, ask your guest if he or she has any meal recommendations or if specific ingredients will be a problem.
Asking doesn’t make you look dumb; on the contrary, it shows that you care!
Your dinner guest will feel loved and cared for with your efforts and consideration.
Kelsee Keitel is a graduate student, writer and speaker, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.
You can read more about Kelsee’s ministry, Detangled & Free, over at kelseekeitel.com or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
My publisher has decided to run a month-long sale on two of my ebooks!
The “What’s for Dinner?” Solution: Quick, Easy, and Affordable Meals Your Family Will Love is on sale for $2.99. Click here to purchase!
Meal time can be one of the most hectic times in a mama’s day. With today’s busy schedules, it is easier to drive through than dive in to your kitchen.
These easy steps will help you make meal planning easy so that you can get to the fun part of connecting with your family and not just the food!
Create a master list of meals for the month. Click here for a list of FREEBIES where you can find a shopping/inventory sheet to make your meal planning easy! Keep in mind your family schedule as you create meals for each day. Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to be less chaotic in our home, so I can plan a little more elaborate meal for those days. Now, some days, elaborate may mean that I just put a pat of butter on the green beans before serving, but usually it means that I can make something that might take a bit more time or preparation. The “What’s For Dinner?” Solution is a wonderful resource to create quick, easy, affordable meals.
Put each of the meals into categories for easy planning. A few that I use are Freezer meals – ones that I have on the freezer already, Slow Cooker meals – ones that I will need my crock pot for and create ahead of time, or LOOP meals – Left Over On Purpose. This might mean a turkey pot pie from the leftover turkey from the dinner the night before. Once you have the meals, you can organize what you need for each meal.
Create the calendar and make copies of it for the next couple months. Some things might change, but when you have a template to work from, it makes life a whole lot easier. After you use it, you can evaluate if the system is working.
Planning your meals ahead of time will help you feel more in control and less frazzled at dinner hour. Thinking ahead gives you the freedom to enjoy your day. To help you start planning right away, just subscribe to my blog right over there in the purple little post-it and get a free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Man Food. Easy Peasy!
You know I love you, right?
So, can I just say, with all the love in the world, that I’m just the teensiest bit frustrated with you?
Let me explain.
When I go to speak, and I start talking about dinner, EVERY SINGLE WOMAN rolls her eyes and groans. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is perplexed by dinner.
- “I feel like 5 o’clock sneaks up on me everyday.”
- “I buy hundreds of dollars of groceries and there’s never anything in my house.”
- “My whole family is BORED with what I cook, so why bother?”
I love you all. But I’m just sick of it. Because you all assume that it’s easier for the woman next door. You honestly believe that everyone else is out there, whipping up tasty food for their families, while you are the only one who is THRILLED that you at least have a box of Mac and Cheese that could pass for dinner. (It has two of the four food groups, right?)
Yes, there are some women who don’t panic at 4:00 in the afternoon when it comes to dinner. What do they have that your don’t?
That’s it. They’ve taken the time to write down what they are going to have for a week, (or a month,) so when they go to the grocery store, they have a plan. And when they wake up in the morning and wonder what to defrost, they have a plan. And when their kids have swim practice, they have a plan.
And I KNOW you know this. But when I ask women if they have a plan, they know they should have it all written down, but for some reason or another, (their child needs them, The Real Housewives of the OC is on…) they don’t. And the Panic continues.
I want you to have a plan, and I plan on providing a public service to those of you who do. Here is what I’ll do:
- Here is the link to my 50 Dinner Ideas Worksheet
- Everyone who tells me by Friday at midnight PST what they are having for dinner next week will be entered into a drawing to win one of my books. (This week it’ll be The What’s for Dinner Solution!)
- I’ll share my menu so you have some ideas
This Week’s Menu
Monday Chicken Sausages, Potatoes and Veggies on the Grill
Tuesday Chicken Stir Fry with Brown Rice and Veggies
Wednesday Lemon Pork Roast and Sauteed Spinach
Thursday Going out!
Friday Pulled Chicken Salad
Saturday BBQ – Everyone’s Coming Over
Now tell me. What is your plan for next week? I promise you, if you tell me what you are eating, your week will be so much better. Plus, if you put it in the comments, you will be entered to win my book The What’s for Dinner Project.
This week I am going to help you make dinner, save time, save money, get organized and make dinner time meaningful and full of purpose once again. We are going to focus on how all of us, regardless of how busy you are can make great tasting, healthy meals for your family. Like all projects we start at the beginning. For the What’s For Dinner Solution we start by finding out what you have to work with and getting it all organized.
See what you have
Do you know what is in your pantry? Have you checked the back of the freezer lately? And what about that one drawer in the fridge you never open? Do you even know what spices wait for you in the cabinet?
Not all of us are culinary experts who easily plan menus. Make appropriate shopping lists and can whip up a gourmet meal for our family every night. Life is busy and hectic. We juggle managing a house, a career, husband’s career kids, games, play dates, doctor appointments, baseball practice and the list goes on and on. Not to mention we are not programmed to wake up and decide what we are going to prepare for dinner. If we do the thought is fleeting and before we know it 5 pm has arrived, the natives are restless and there is no plan.
So what do you do know?
First off you need to know what you have on hand.
Take the time to clean out and organize your recipes, pantry, cabinets, fridge and freezer.
Let’s start with the recipes.
Get them organized. If you have recipes cards or a folder with papers shoved inside buy some notebook dividers. Label them appropriately: Appetizers, salad, side dishes, main course: meats, pasta, desserts, breads, breakfast etc…
As you are organizing your recipes sort through them; will you make that again? Did the family like that dish? Does it fit within my diet plan (diabetes, allergy, healthy, no sugar etc.) There is no sense in keeping recipes that will not be used. It is just more clutter.
Now for the Pantry
Clean out expired products.
Sort by food likeness: baking products, canned goods, cereal, crackers and so on.
Same steps from the pantry apply, like foods together. Condiments on one shelf, milk, creamers and juice on another. Use the produce drawers for the produce and deli drawer for your meats and cheeses.
If you do not already start today and write the date on all foods you place in your freezer.
Make a list of what you have on your freezer so you can plan your meals accordingly. Stop buying food you already have.
All of the above will help you see what you have, how much you have and make your menu & list making easier. Not to mention you and the family will be able to quickly grab a great snack when needed.
Now it is your turn. Tell me in the comments below what you do to stay organized so you know what is on hand to eat. Any organizing tip you want tos hare with the other readers are great too.